Incentive Travel is Bouncing Back: The Comeback Continues

Incentive travel seemed to be dead for many companies; however, recent studies show this motivational concept to be making a strong comeback. A decline in these motivational awards was seen as the recession took hold. In 2011, the industry began seeing significant business increases that have continued to steadily climb. Why the change of mind as the economy began to take a turn for the worse? Companies were forced to cut costs and even encouraged to eliminate these programs due to the less than desirable actions of other businesses. AIG, in particular, gained bad publicity as they continued to deliver trip incentives while applying for government bailout money. The impressions left on the public after this event caused numerous organizations to eliminate these programs.

This concept has re-entered administrative processes, but is a little different from before thanks to the series of events right after the recession began. Companies need to be able to provide the right motivation and rewards. Budgeting, program justification, and business centered rewards have become prevalent as incentive travel gains popularity once again. Some of the less permanent changes seen include:

  • Smaller Budgets
  • Shorter Traveling Time-Frames
  • Reduced Numbers of Participants
  • Less Lavish Accommodations
  • U.S. Rather Than Out of Country Locations


These changes accommodate strains put on businesses by the economy while maintaining public image. A shorter, closer trip is easier to justify over the countless distant destinations available for this type of package. As the economy begins to upsurge, several companies are beginning to expand their programs in an effort to inspire individuals or teams to meet a goal or set of objectives. One of a kind destinations, reasonable travel lengths, and comfortable accommodations can be affordable when handled by a professional.

What Permanent Program Changes Are Being Seen?

A few changes are expected to never go away as incentive travel continues to become increasingly popular. Organizations have heightened focus on justifying the business benefits of offering an incentive such as this. The financial aspects are thoroughly evaluated and must be shown to provide sufficient benefits for the money spent. Companies are incorporating business meetings, charitable events, and additional items to make this type of reward more reasonable. Social media is being applied for the promotional aspects of an incentive travel package and used by various organizations as a form of continuous communication involving the award.

While the justification process can seem extreme, multiple individuals see these alterations as positive. Absence of these programs has enlightened their true benefit to organizations in need of increased productivity, morale, or individual performance. Employee engagement has drastically dropped and individuals are in severe need of something that creates a more positive environment as well as the impact necessary for future success. Incentive travel professionals can meet strict financial budgets without taking away the “WOW” factor individuals need to continue striving to achieve the award. It takes the right planning, effective communication, and an exceptional prize to make these programs work. Professionals understand the obstacles faced when desiring to implement this type of program today and can create a rewarding experience for even the smallest organization.